It’s been about a little over a month since Wave 8 was released for Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures. The new ships made a big splash on the tournament scene as we wrapped up this year’s Store Championships and moved on to Regional events. The Ghost has proven itself a veritable toolbox, capable of serving as a heavy hitting gunship. The TIE Advanced Prototype has seen immediate usage as a cheap and efficient fighter, either as a generic swarm or slipping The Inquisitor into an existing build like Sith Lords and freeing up points to upgrade the other ships in the list. And the Punishing One has quite possibly caused the largest impact, with Dengar fueling my own Store Championship win, and the Wolfpack / “U-Boats” build of 3 Contracted Scouts appearing all over the place. The one ship that hasn’t gotten a lot of love yet is the Mist Hunter, and after a series of questions from my local group, I wanted to find a way to make it usable.
The Mist Hunter / G-1A Starfighter serves as the B-Wing of Scum & Villainy, with base costs in the 20’s, average maneuver dial, 8 total health, 3 attack, 1 evade, access to Crew and System Upgrade slots, a Barrel Roll*, and a Cannon* [*one ship via the title, and only a Tractor Beam]. B-Wings are rarely seen on the table in my local meta lately, and appear in specialized roles when they do – an equivalent of BBBBZ isn’t possible, with the cheapest G-1A weighing in at 23 points. The strengths of the 4 B-Wing lists without a 5th ship that I’ve seen lie largely in having access to a Barrel Roll for blocking arc dodgers, so that’s not going to work here either, as only one ship can have it. The Mist Hunter will need a new approach, despite the parallels to the B-Wing.
As for a stand-alone ship; the M3-A Scyk serves as a cheaper cannon carrier for the Tractor Beam, albeit a much less sturdy one. A generic Ruthless Freelancer with a Fire-Control System (B-Wing / TIE Phantom) does come out to 25 points, allowing it to slot nicely in to a modular build (which scum tends to do easily, as referenced in my article on the Kihraxz). But it certainly doesn’t feature the ship, it would simply be serving as a cog in the wheel.
No, I want to make the G-1A into a headliner, so that meant exploring the named pilots.
The concept: Mess up the enemy’s actions via stress and token denial, then let Zuckuss drop the hammer on somebody 6 attack dice at a time (3 base, +1 for Range 1, + 1 for his pilot ability, +1 for Opportunist).
The execution: Messy. Very Messy. Almost Lionel Messi (sorry, had to slip that one in there for the benefit of a certain pirate).
Facing off against two minimally equipped X-Wings (one of each generation) and Han for my first test-run, I had a lot of trouble getting shots lined up early. Facing an unfamiliar opponent with an unusual list, I had no idea what to expect from his movements. I also got confused early on as to which G-1A was which, and that certainly didn’t help matters. Palob didn’t hold up well under concentrated fire, but Zuckuss managed to do his thing – After stripping shields from the T-70 on one turn, stressing it in the process, and snagging a Target Lock to keep, he rolled up into Range 1 and fired a short range rail gun, 4 hits and 2 critical hits without spending any modifications.
Zuckuss was knocked out soon thereafter, leaving a damaged 4-LOM by himself against mostly full health Han and a pristine generic T-65. Not exactly a great situation. 4-LOM was never intended to be a closer in my design – his role was to help set up Zuckuss’s attacks and then harass and kite another ship out of the fight. But he had all the tools needed to win this battle, and was in prime position to do it.
For about the next 12 turns, 4-LOM worked magic. Each turn, I looked at the board state, and ruled out there the Falcon couldn’t go without landing on an asteroid or risking the table edge. I ruled those out as possible landing spots, and picked a move I knew I didn’t want to make. With Intelligence Agent, I would peek at Han’s dial, then I would watch where the X-Wing moved. Having perfect knowledge of final board state, 4-LOM would barrel roll for extra reach if necessary (snagging a token otherwise), and adjust his maneuver via Stay on Target to get right into Han’s way. Falcon bumps the Mist Hunter, Mist Hunter hands that stress away at the end of the turn… wash, rinse, repeat. But the X-Wing was still a threat. He got off a shot or two, luckily to little effect. But more often than not, I could prevent that shot with the Tractor Beam, placing the lower PS pilot onto asteroid after asteroid, letting them be the damage source that slowly pecked away at the T-65’s shields, and nullifying its’ return fire in the process. And when I couldn’t stop the shot with a Tractor Beam movement, the G-1A’s Evade action came in handy.
Eventually, the Falcon managed to escape the trap with 3 stress tokens in tow, and the X-Wing was taken out in the same turn. Now we had a fair 1-on-1 fight on our hands, in which 4-LOM, as equipped still had an advantage. After circling around to make another attack run while the Falcon cleared stress, 4-LOM went back to work, actively blocking the Falcon onto asteroids when possible for potential damage, or saving up Target Locks on turns that would have a collision, and passing off stress again. When firing -did- occur, Han had naught but his native reroll (soon removed via an Injured Pilot critical), and the Mist Hunter would have a Target Lock for offense and an Evade for defense. With action support for the war of attrition that followed, my scum managed to limp away from the fight victorious.
What I’m trying to express, and feel that I’m falling short of fully conveying, is how much 4-LOM was in control of that fight. I didn’t care what maneuver the Falcon picked, I was going to block it over and over again until I was ready to shoot at it. I came in to this match expecting 4-LOM to be a distraction, a side show and support for Zuckuss. Instead, he took the main stage, and made it his game. It was a pleasant surprise.
Chaos. Pure, undiluted chaos. The kind that Scum and Villainy thrives within. That’s what you get when a new wave of ships and upgrades releases in the midst of the Store Championship season for Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures. Two days between “okay, you can sell these now” and a tournament, zero time to find a comfortable and competitive build. Sure, you can theorize all you want, players can proxy what content has been revealed, but nothing prepares you for the chaos of the new meta.
I’d had plenty of chances already this season at a Store Championship win, but I fell just short over and over again. I placed second with my Dual IG-2000 build, as well as with a borrowed Crackshot TIE Fighter Swarm. And I barely missed more cuts than I’d like to admit, not liking where my favored builds fit in with the current opposition and not having better ideas that I was comfortable flying.
But I knew that Wave 8’s release was my ticket to the top. As soon as he was revealed, I started cranking on a Dengar build; which was refined more and more as additional upgrades were exposed. I was bound and determined to make him work. And what better frenemy to team him up with than Boba Fett himself? Not being certain of where Dengar would end up, I played Boba frequently in casual games with minimal upgrades, overloading a Bossk that served as a stand-in for the Punishing One. I knew whatever my final build was, Boba should stay lean and efficient, with the primary goal of being an early game threat and allowing Dengar to close out the match.
I managed to get in exactly one practice game between release and the next tournament. I had thrown iteration after iteration of the list at a friend, and it all sounded great. In practice, I lost out to a list consisting of three Trandoshan Slaver YV-666’s, and rather badly. I had hampered myself greatly by relying on stressing Dengar via Experimental Interface to trigger “Gonk” every turn, which gave me great potential for late game regeneration, but in turn it limited my mobility greatly, and I never reached that late game state.
With little time to refactor, and no time to practice, Experimental Interface came off, and I had nowhere I wanted to put those points on Dengar, so over to Boba they went. Lean and mean became lean-ish, flexible, and REALLY mean, as those 3 points became the Navigator that he would later use to great success.
Boba’s loadout is minimal, and essentially all about giving me options. I flew him with a similar mindset to how I would fly a TIE Interceptor in days past, giving up the ability to combine a Boost and a Barrel Roll, but getting an arguably better option to avoid blocks in having the Navigator and Engine Upgrade. I could easily dodge arcs by flying past an opponent and utilizing my auxiliary arc instead, and frequently would find myself with full modifiers in combat thanks to a simple Focus action and his innate pilot ability.
Dengar, on the other hand, is set up for maximum damage output across the board. Usually moving last or close to it with a Pilot Skill of 9 and a native Barrel Roll available, he can potentially set up some unopposed shots that still have Predator to modify them. When he’s in the thick of the fighting, Predator can modify both his attack and counterattack, and R5-P8 (lovingly known as “R8-P3” and “dickbot”) can also toss in an extra damage here and there. “Gonk” and his regeneration ability was the icing on the cake. Without extra action economy from Experimental Interface, “Gonk” can’t trigger often and didn’t provide any passive boosts like Bossk or Tactician could, but a single shield recovered equates itself to a half cost Shield Upgrade, and there’s potential for recovering much more than that over the course of the game.
Holy Scyks, Batman! What a way to kick off Wave 8!!! Cloaking Device, Manaroo, two Attanni Mindlinks, R5-P8, and a Tractor Beam, all in one list. This thing is sneaky good on defense, because the list can generate up to 6 Focus in a turn, has defensive rerolls, and can move Target Locks off of the easiest target to hit.
I caused some serious confusion right out of the gate by not engaging immediately. Instead, I ran my forces perpendicular to the enemy, creeping along my board edge, all the while building up shields on “Gonk”. As I had hoped, in addition to preparing for late game regeneration, this also gave me time to find an opening where my opponent would be out of position and unable to fully engage.
While a great defensive plan against a swarm of ships with just a couple attack dice each, my opponent’s build was vulnerable to attacks that could surge for high damage, which Boba and Dengar were more than happy to provide. Having the ability to fire just about anywhere, I gave very few hints as to where Manaroo’s tokens should go each turn; I could usually just pick the easiest target and fire away. And while the Tractor Beam could increase the damage output of the other ships, it didn’t play a large role, and the Scyk was basically helpless on its’ own.
Moar chaos!!! My first look at a Ghost (of many, I’m sure). This thing packs a punch, and I have no idea how to expect my opponent to fly it. I’m just glad there isn’t room for it to have much support. I expect Ezra to stay onboard for as long as possible for the extra stress and Ion potential, especially against my large ships. The Y-Wing can wait, I’ve got to get that behemoth off the table, stat. Then I’ll figure out what to do with Ezra after that.
So of course, seeing the Ion Cannon, Tactician, and ability to double tap them, what do I do but serve myself up on a platter? I honestly expected to be in Ion range, but I thought my opponent would have turned to face me rather than give up unopposed range 3 shots. So my Punishing One that was supposed to race by ended up right in the enemy’s sights. Dengar took several damage from a primary, an Ion in the end phase, and two Stress tokens to boot. The obvious move from there was to swing out to my left with green maneuvers to start clearing that, but I couldn’t afford to be obvious now, as the Ghost packed too much of a punch if I stayed in arc, and could send me off the board if I wasn’t careful about my facing. Not really needing modifiers to do damage against a ship without evade dice while packing Predator, I kept the stress and stayed ot of harm’s way.
Big and beefy, especially with the added defense offered by Reinforced Deflectors, the Ghost took a while to chew through, but every damage card stuck, including more than a fair share of Critical Hits. Battered, but not beaten, Boba and Dengar converged on the Y-Wing, downing it quickly before Ezra could engage. The rest of the game was a game of keep-away. Ezra was forced to commit blindly each turn to his move and actions, and spammed Rage whenever possible. But with higher pilot skill and repositioning abilites, I could kite him indefinitely. With Boba already under half health (largely thanks to the turn pictured above), I let him score the finishing blow while Dengar re-Gonk-erated to save points.
As opposed to the previous two lists, this doesn’t look too different compared to what this guy might have been running prior to wave 8’s arrival. There’s nothing that sticks out to me as being scary here. Still, I don’t want to underestimate what it can do, he’s 2-0 for a reason, and he just beat another Dengar build in the hands of a seasoned vet.
I want this guy’s dice checked. I had a hard time reading the results (he had painted in all the symbols to be able to identify them as his dice), but he was legitimately rolling the results he claimed. And they were ridiculous. I don’t think his T-70 (masquerading as a T-65 model) ever rolled less than 2 hits and a critical hit, usually before any modifiers were applied.
I always have trouble against newer players that don’t do what “makes sense”, because they tend to surprise me and take the move I had struck off of my list of possibilities. Knowing that he was newer, I tried to stretch his coordination, and dragged him through the asteroid field while charging up Gonk again. Instead of actually doing anything of note, though, I found myself struggling to engage safely, having a hard time turning Boba in to start the fight. And when I finally did, those hot dice bit deep.
Boba Fett went down quickly, and Dengar followed right behind, only taking the A-Wing and B-Wing with them. I’m still scratching my head and wondering if I remembered to assign all my shield tokens at the game’s onset. I know I did, and I’m not trying to take anything away from my opponent, he did a good job of concentrating fire, leaving me with few maneuvering options, and never giving me a good shot at the “right” target. But I’m still trying to figure out where all that damage came from.
So here I stand, knowing I need a slam dunk to make the cut, and it’s my old friend InstantAequitas back for another chess match. This would be my third time facing this exact same list, and I wasn’t happy about it. Last time I squeaked by with a crackshot swarm, and the game before that he made Dual IG into Solo IG before I realized combat had started, and then made it IG-0000 quickly thereafter. There’s enough of an alpha strike in his list that one of my ships is going to be crippled or even dead in the first round of combat, and for the first time all day I’m not holding all the trump cards in pilot skill. Bleh.
In our previous games, he’s played a cat and mouse game with me, daring me to chase one A-Wing or the other while Wedge creeps up unmolested. The first time, I took the bait. The second time, I left the A-Wings in my dust and ran Wedge over before turning back to engage his flankers. Today, he risked no such thing, committing Wedge to the joust right away; no divide and conquer for me.
Looking back on it, he tipped his hand in the photo above – Tycho, on the left, didn’t use Push The Limit to double up on tokens in the opening turn, despite the fact that Jake did. I was looking to quickly down Wedge again, and keep the A-Wings from dropping their missile payload on me, so I surged forward with both of my ships, and Dengar moved into Tycho’s way with a Barrel Roll, while Boba already had Jake’s likely path covered. Sure enough, I caused a collision with Jake (I had initiative), but Tycho’s speed 5 Koiogran Turn dropped him down right behind Dengar, and still able to perform actions. Even having blocked an A-Wing, Fett got absolutely blasted, taking a Damaged Engine crit in the opening round of fire. Meanwhile, I scored all of a single damage on Wedge in the exchange.
My luck would improve from there, however, as Tycho’s heavy payload was spend, Jake flew out of the fight temporarily to set up his next attack run, and Wedge just plain missed after a K-Turn of his own; and I cleared his shields with return fire, the subsequent round would see Wedge removed from the board. Tycho did a good job of harrassing me, but green dice eventually fail, and Tycho dropped at the same time as Boba Fett.
Dengar, who had taken significant damage already, was trying to dodge away from Jake, who was being his normal shifty self and still had his rockets. Flying into the corner of my opponent’s deployment zone, I pulled out the one big trick I had up my sleeve – that beautiful white Segnor’s Loop to the left let me nestle precisely into the corner. A quick survey of my health showed me as having full hull and one shield; I played the odds and recovered a second with “Gonk”, meaning it would take three damage to score half points for my ship. Jake had covered all options, taking a straight maneuver in case I had turned right instead and continued to flee – and this left him unable to escape my firing arc at Range 1. Knowing that he couldn’t score a kill and would be taking two shots in return, Jake took a Focus and Evade, and fired his rockets out of desperation, dealing two damage and leaving me just above half health. And that’s where Dengar unleashed hell. 4 die counter-attack, stripped tokens, dinged shields. 4 die attack, no more A-Wing. A hearty handshake followed, for what was yet another great game between us.
Result: 100-47 win
Standings: 3-1, 570 MoV
With 18 players in attendance, the format for the day was 4 rounds of Swiss, with the top 4 players continuing in single elimination. In 3rd place after the 4th round, it was time for a quick meal break, then on to the cut.
Here it was, the oft discussed “cannonball” build. So long as Ezra stayed docked, anything that found itself at Range 1 of the Ghost could find itself taking 4 unblockable damage in a turn.
On top of that, a regenerating Poe was floating around out there. The Ghost needed to be my first concern, but Poe might be the bigger priority to kill.
My opponent, whom a few weeks back had chased my IG-88 for half an hour with Miranda, was (to my knowledge) brand new to flying large based ships like the Ghost. So seeing an opportunity to do so, I dared him to fly in to the asteroid field – I wanted clean shots at the Ghost while Poe was still out of the picture, and what better way to do so than with the VCX on a rock?
That didn’t work out for me. Chopper cleared the turn with scant micrometers to spare, and blew Boba’s shields off within the turn, not caring the least bit about what anyone’s dice said. But I put some damage back on the Ghost, and resolved not to be caught like that again. With the new ship now dodging subsequent asteroids, I shifted my attention to the T-70, who found himself nose to nose with Boba. Poe proceeded to roll four Focus icons for his attack, and boldly spent the token, a risk that would prove to not pay off. He dealt damage, certainly, but it was the last I would take for the game. Two quick blasts from my ships chewed into the X-Wing’s hull, and a blocking move by Boba left Dengar with a sure kill shot.
I then spent a couple of turns kiting the Ghost. Just like on a Firespray, the side arc of the VCX is big and (natively) defenseless. With a pair of ships that can move quickly, don’t have to point at their target to fire, can reposition themselves with actions, have higher pilot skill than the enemy, and all the patience you’d ever need, Chopper’s health slowly ticked away. Ezra made a momentary appearance to little effect, he never got to roll attack dice. Chopper would meet a similar fate on the following turn.
Pop quiz, don’t look, but what’s the first word of the name of this article? I’ll give you a hint: It’s something Dengar is famous for. If you said “Payback”, you’re right and you cheated, because I’m more than 3000 words in at this point; I had to double check the title myself. You could turn this in for a term paper in some courses (X-Wing 101?).
Anyway, the point is that it was time to get revenge for my earlier loss. Nothing new about the list itself, but I wasn’t about to mess around and play coy. I smelled victory and this Rebel rabble was all that stood in my way.
I wanted the joust. The straight up, my stats beat your stats, damn the torpedoes joust. But he set up on my left flank, and I didn’t want to run Dengar down that edge. So I took the opposite corner, and picked a spot at mid-table for the engagement. I wanted to focus fire and down something early, but I was more concerned about not taking a ton of damage either of my own ships.
I rolled in toward the engagement point, and realized Boba might be in a world of hurt. If I came straight in at my opponent, there was no way for me to adjust the Firespray to be out of anyone’s firing arc. So I studied the field, and spied an out, banking in and taking a Boost out the side of his formation. This worked ALMOST perfectly; I didn’t want to shoot the A-Wing with Boba, but it was my only option. A questionable move and Boost by the A-Wing had left it with no shot, no tokens, and facing an asteroid; perhaps he was looking for a block, but all he got was a hail of blaster fire from Fett instead. The B-Wing had a blindside hit available on Boba, but couldn’t hit Dengar. The X-Wing, on the other hand, could only shoot Dengar. Damage got spread across both squads, and I was happy – I now had multiple targets that could be focused down within a turn, and was in a great position to press that advantage.
Looking back on the previous game, the X-Wing had taken damage early, and my opponent had prioritized moves for shield recovery. Having gotten the free counter-attack from Dengar, I got some damage there, I expected him to fly defensively. That left me free to pour fire into the other ships, and I concentrated fire on the K-Wing, making quick work of it – as the only turret in his list, I felt I could outfly him and play the long game so long as that steady damage went away. In the exchange, I took a bit more damage on both my ships, but the X-Wing obliged me by giving up shots in exchange for health; and I can tank a solo B-Wing shot or two on these big fellows.
Shields only hold up so long, though, and my opponent’s dice were still hot, so Dengar was hurting and carrying several damage cards. I managed a couple of dodgy moves, and got a free shot off on the B-Wing, stripping a couple shields. Then my next move brought Dengar face to face with that ship, and clinging to life with a single hull. I imagined that would be a possibility when planning the turn, and thought I could barrel roll out of arc to safety. Looking at the Blue Squadron Pilot’s firing arc, however, it was too close to call. Not having a lot of practice with the JumpMaster yet, and not having played the Outrider in a while, I couldn’t tell if I would make it out or not. I couldn’t risk it. I was bound to lose that ship, and took a Focus, planning to go out with a bang like Dengar should….
… and then I flipped Boba’s dial, and his conservative slow 1 Forward movement. The clouds parted, a choir of Mandalorians began to chant, and Boba sprang into action. Navigator. 4 Forward. Boost around the asteroid. Throw some naked dice. My turn to roll hot. Shields down, scratched the hull. Dengar takes the opening, and vaporizes the B-Wing, surviving the turn. Crisis averted.
The A-Wing was eliminated easily soon after this, having taken several damage in the early exchange. but our nemesis in the X-Wing was long since back to full health; and a single attack could potentially finish off either of my ships. So with no time limit in the match, I went on the full defensive, zooming around the field and building up a few shields via Gonk where I could, firing shots of opportunity, but generally just trying not to die.
Eventually, the X-Wing cut the corner enough to catch up, and my ships wouldn’t be escaping. Shots were exchanged, and shields were traded; all three survived the initial fire thanks to Gonk’s recovery. Dengar didn’t have a lot of options for a move this time, and just prepared himself for another exchange. It was now or nothing.
Boba and Dengar both unloaded into the X-Wing, who managed to barely survive by ejecting R2-D2 via Integrated Astromech. The lone remaining enemy then finished the Punishing One off. I wish I could say that’s when something epic happened. But the X-Wing was out of arc, so no counter attack. R5-P8 failed to come through too. So the ending wasn’t storybook. But with no regeneration available, a single hull, and a legendary bounty hunter still on the field, that X-Wing wasn’t long for this world. Boba was my closer, nothing like my plan. But I had my vengeance, and my win.
I was so happy to be a part of the chaos, learning on the fly about what these new ships were capable of and how folks would equip and maneuver them. I’ll take that over an established and exhausted meta any time. I’m impressed with the Ghost and the Punishing One, the jury is still out on the Attack Shuttle, and I’m looking forward to seeing the Mist Hunter and TIE Advanced Prototype in action. Now I’ve just got to pick a regional to drive to…
Earlier this week, I was playing a game against one of the up & coming members of our local X-Wing Miniatures group. He has a really cynical and self-deprecating sense of humor that can cause players to underestimate him at times, but I’ve observed enough of his progress over the past year or so to know better and not take that bait. I had specifically sought him out for a game to test my list against the triple K-Wing build (see below) that he had grown fond of, and which had been used just days before by another player to win the 49 person Store Championship event at my home store. His first two turns were simple; all 3 K-Wings took slow forward movements, maintaining a tight formation and waiting for me to come to him. In planning for the third turn, he turned his maneuver dials over and over, and took the time to sarcastically say aloud, “This is the part where I pretend I’m doing something different”. And then, of course, he did something different, laying on the throttle and surging ahead with all of his ships.
A white lie, a bluff, or playful banter, you decide what to call it. I normally would have thought nothing of it. But on this day, it struck a chord with me, because I had recently read a rant about a very similar situation. In the story, while practicing for an X-Wing Store Championship, a player was shocked and angered by his friend outright lying about his maneuver for the turn. Player A, our angry protagonist, had moved one of his ships, and Player B said something along the lines of “You played it right. I’m glad I decided not to take [X maneuver], because that right there would have blocked me. and probably killed me.” Player A acted on this information, and took a Boost or a Barrel Roll to re-position his ship, and Player B proceeded to turn over his dial to reveal that exact maneuver, the final position of which was now free and clear of enemy ships. Player A was mad enough about this blatant lie to take his campaign to the internet and call for such underhanded tactics to be banned from the game entirely, and I was surprised to have seen that the suggestion garnered no small amount of support from others.
All three of the Fantasy Flight Games lines that I actively play right now (X-Wing, Armada, and Imperial Assault) rely on hidden information to some degree, and all three handle it differently. In X-Wing, each ship plots its’ maneuver in secrecy, and there are a limited number of game effects that allow you to influence, modify, or spy on this information. Armada lays out all its’ cards on the table (literally), but each ship secretly plans a series of commands to execute over the course of the game, and there’s certainly some bluffing and strategy added by these to positioning and the order of ship activation, which is left up to each player to decide each turn. Imperial Assault shares the mechanic of freeform unit activation order, and adds in a customizable deck of Command cards that can hold nasty surprises for your opponent – extra attacks, sturdier than expected defenses, rapid repositioning of units, or even hidden explosive traps.
This hidden information is what makes the game exciting. Dice are always going to be random, builds are a combination of a game of Rock-Paper-Scissors and an optimization problem. But tactics and secret plans are what truly make these games fun. With the right surprise move, you can clutch victory from the jaws of defeat. But all the power of your hidden information can be ruined by a bad poker face.
A sigh of relief at an enemy’s move in X-Wing can cause them to move right into your way with a Barrel Roll. Measuring carefully to ensure your Armada fighter squadrons are right on the edge of activation range for a Squadron command next turn can allow your opponent to react to that threat by moving his own squadrons out of reach, or into a covering position for a capital ship. Reaching for your hand of Command cards can make an opponent rethink his order of actions in Imperial Assault in order to minimize the impact of a Parting Blow or Overcharged Weapons.
In Imperial Assault, it seems that it is rare for both players to have “beginning of round” effects to play, but it is possible for both players to do so, and the player with initiative that round has to go first. Take Initiative is a very common card to see in Command decks, and it has been explained to me that if the player with initiative uses a copy of that card, it blocks the opponent from doing so. But otherwise, there’s no reason to want to do it – not only does it prevent you from using it on a future turn to actually steal the initiative token, it forces you to leave one of your deployment groups out of action for the round. I make sure to ask frequently if my opponent has any effects to play before I play mine (as per the normal sequence of the turn), hoping that they might interpret that as that I have something to play after their window has closed, and getting them to waste the card if they have it. But more importantly, I want to make sure that when I do have it, they don’t (correctly) assume that I have the card when I ask if they have any effects to play first.
Giving mixed signals regarding game actions impact on your future plans helps cover up for when your reactions are legitimate. Pausing as though considering an interrupt ability in a card game can give away that you have it available, but can just as easily be a bluff to make the opponent cautious. Perhaps you won’t fool your opponent about what you are doing right then at that moment, but you might be able to truly make it a surprise when you do act upon the opportunity in question.
“Table talk”, mind games, bluffing, and braggadocio are to be expected in a competitive environment. Plastic stormtroopers and starships are boring; it’s the mind across the table that I’m there to compete against. And if you expect me, or anyone else, to not try to get in your head a little bit, knock you off balance, and make you second guess your actions in game, you’re silly. Lie to me, and I’ll lie to you. Then we’ll let the dice figure out who told the better lies.
— Sidebar —
The following is the K-Wing build I was referencing, made popular via a relatively good showing at this past year’s X-Wing World Championship. Capable of stressing a ship into oblivion, pouring out 6 TLT shots per turn, and containing a steady late game threat in Miranda, this build is currently the bane of my existence. It’s not fun to play against and it’s not particularly fun to play with, but in the right player’s hands it’s deadly. And if all goes well, I’ll end up playing against it tomorrow. Yay!
If there’s one thing running a blog will tell you, it’s how busy you are. Point in case, I’ve managed not to post a new article for a month. So if you miss me and you’re looking for more frequent updates, I might suggest liking The Tabletop General on Facebook, where I’m apt to post smaller updates on a more frequent basis.
Over that past month, I came away with far more gaming presents for Christmas than anyone should ever get, ordered a sweet new laptop that’s due any day now, and generally didn’t manage to get in ANY casual X-Wing Miniatures or Armada games. So now I find myself freaking out a little bit since the 2016 Store Championship season is technically already underway for Fantasy Flight Games. I’ve got a couple more stores still to call for event listings, but here’s what my upcoming tour looks like thus far:
1/9/16: X-Wing – Wasteland Games – Duluth, GA
1/16/16: Armada – Meeple Madness – Flowery Branch, GA
?1/24/16: Imperial Assault – Giga-Bites Cafe – Marrietta, GA?
1/30/16: X-Wing – Meeple Madness – Flowery Branch, GA
2/6/16: X-Wing (TO) – Giga-Bites Cafe – Marrietta, GA
2/13/16: X-Wing – The Deep Comics & Games – Huntsville, AL
2/20/16: Armada (TO) – Giga-Bites Cafe – Marrietta, GA
2/27/16: X-Wing – Titan – Duluth, GA
3/5/16: X-Wing – Hobbytown USA – Kennesaw, GA
3/12/16: Armada – Hobbytown USA – Kennesaw, GA
OR X-Wing – Galactic Comics – Statesboro, GA
3/19/16: Armada – Wasteland Games – Duluth, GA
OR X-Wing – Sci-Fi City – Knoxville, TN
?3/26/16: Imperial Assault – Hobbytown USA – Kennesaw, GA?
It’s a hard call right now for the March dates. With so many events going on over the region, overlap was unavoidable. While I’d like to support my local community and participate in at least one Armada event that I’m not the TO for, I’d also like to defend my title at Galactic. I would also really like to win an X-Wing event, over any of the others. So that makes the choices between local Armada events or distant X-Wing events tough.
And yes, that is a couple of potential Imperial Assault events you see sprinkled in to the schedule. No, I don’t really play the game, but I’ve heard good things about it, and I’m trying to solidify the local player base. So if nothing else comes up that day, I can at least be a warm body for the event. I’m hoping to at least get to a semi-competitive level in the game over the next month or so.
How would I have time for that? Well, Armada is on notice if things don’t improve for me soon. Perhaps I need to spend more time grinding out the details of the game, or even take a “net-deck” approach as a jump start. As it is, I’m not overly worried about the Armada events, as usual I’m concentrating primarily on X-Wing.
So what’s there to prepare for with X-Wing? After all, my TIE Interceptors did really well last season (snagging a championship title, in fact), and they didn’t get any worse, right? Well… no, they didn’t, but the competition got better. There’s a grand total of five (post-publish edit: six) things that seriously worry me about running them again:
RAC/Fel – While less popular than last year, this combo was the instrument of my demise at last year’s Atlanta Regional, and is generally a tough matchup for me. My default build for the interceptors loses the initiative bid to Soontir Fel (TIE Interceptor), and Rear Admiral Chiraneau(Decimator) pumps out too much damage and just doesn’t die fast enough for me to be comfortable. It’s only 16 damage to knock him out, sure, but with a primary weapon turret, he doesn’t have to stay in firing arc. And with Veteran Instincts (Slave 1 / Millennium Falcon) and Engine Upgrade (Millennium Falcon), Chiraneau can easily decide to slip out of firing arcs with a boost rather than stick around and get shot at.
Crack Shot Swarm – This one is MUCH more likely to be seen. Usually consisting of Howlrunner (TIE Fighter), 2 Omega Squadron Pilots (Force Awakens Core Set / TIE/FO ), and 3 Black Squadron Pilots (TIE Fighter), all equipped with Crack Shot (Kihraxz Fighter / Hound’s Tooth), the Crack Shot Swarm forces you to over-commit with defensive tokens, and will eventually get damage through. On top of that, with 6 TIEs on the board, blocking an Interceptor is near trivial. So to walk into this matchup with a grand total of 3 ships with 3 hit points each, which depend on rationing Focus/Evade tokens to stay alive, I don’t particularly like my odds here. I’ve won my only matchup of these two lists, but it was far closer than I would have liked.
Sith Lords – With last year’s release of the Imperial Raider, TIE Advanced pilots got a major boost. We usually still don’t see anyone other than Darth Vader, but he’s at his best in this list. On top of that, the only thing that makes Soontir Fel any harder to kill is an additional layer of insurance on dice, which Emperor Palpatine (Imperial Raider) is designed to provide. With the potential to load up critical hits with Palpatine and Advanced Targeting Computer (Imperial Raider), Vader usually carrying a trump card of Pilot Skill 11, and an initiative bid for Soontir, this one has generally been a dice-off for me, weighted in the favor of the enemy.
Omega Leader – Generally, my battle plan over the past year or so (as I’ve mentioned here before) is to go punch the biggest threat on the board in the mouth, and pick up the pieces with whatever I had left, because I was confident in my ability to outduel the remainder of the enemy list with just one or two damaged interceptors. Omega Leader (TIE/FO) challenges that theory – he can serve as a supporting piece in the early game, but he gets stronger and stronger as the game goes on, and is a brutal end-game opponent. I haven’t had an opportunity to face him yet, but I’ve witnessed Omega Leader with Juke (TIE/FO) and Comms Array (TIE/FO) go one-on-one with Soontir Fel and absolutely destroy him. Yet you can fairly easily fit two much more threatening ships into the same list, such as your own copy of Soontir Fel fully loaded along with a crew-less Whisper (TIE Phantom). I don’t want to be facing any one of those three as the last ship on the table.
Stress – Perhaps I’ve been spoiled by my local meta and a bit of luck. As I mentioned above, Interceptors really need their tokens to stay alive, and I use Push The Limit (A-Wing / Imperial Aces) like a bad spice habit. Over the past couple years, I’ve not run into a lot of lists with effective stress mechanics, and I usually have found ways to outmaneuver the enemy when there are Tacticians (TIE Phantom) or a Rebel Captive (Lambda Shuttle) on the board. But the relative importance placed on stress at the 2015 world championships will likely garner some copy-cat lists with a suicidal BTL-A4 (Most Wanted) variant of a Gold Squadron Y-Wing carrying R3-A2 (GR-75), as well as triple K-Wing builds with Twin Laser Turrets (K-Wing) and Tacticians – Avoiding the stress areas isn’t THAT hard, but a PTL Interceptor is screwed if it fails to escape, and my defenses are greatly diminished against other attacks in the process. The K-Wings in particular are scary, because they can still fire those TLT’s outside of their primary arc, meaning there is no true blind spot to approach them from.
(Post-Publish edit) Unblockable damage – Without having explored the TIEs in the new Gozanti Assault Carrier much yet, I forgot about this one. Especially combined with something like Emperor Palpatine to guarantee the effect, Wampa (Gozanti) can cut through all of your defenses and hand you a gift-wrapped damage card. Ten Numb (B-Wing) presents a similar danger, especially when given Calculation (Starviper), Marksmanship (Starter set / X-Wing), or a Mangler Cannon (IG-2000 / M3-A). Agile & fragile ships have a lot to worry about from these guys.
With all that said and done, I’m pretty much back to the drawing board, which isn’t somewhere I’ve been for a while – 3x Interceptors with Targeting Computers gave way to Carnor Jax (Imperial Aces) & Sigma Squadron Pilots (TIE Phantom), which gave way to the Interceptors again after Autothrusters (Starviper) hit the scene.
So I’ve got a mental checklist here:
___ High durability. 3 hit points per ship just don’t feel safe to me right now, there’s more and more ways to push damage through.
___ Scum or Imperial – I lean away from playing rebels, there’s not a lot of good matchups for the Crackshot Swarm except for Han Solo (Millennium Falcon) or Dash Rendar (Outrider), neither of which I enjoy playing competitively.
___ High maneuverability – Again, part of this is the enjoyment factor; I’m at my best when I have some sort of tricky way to move around the field unexpectedly. I’m not that great at anticipating exactly where the enemy will go in order to draw out a detailed battle plan 3 turns in advance. I could do it, but it just isn’t a style I’m accustomed to. I much prefer planning on the fly, watching the board resolve itself and fitting my post-move adjustments together like a puzzle.
___ Resiliency to stress – See point 5, above. I want ships that are capable of modifying die results without tokens, that don’t need to stress themselves out constantly to carry out my battle plan, and that aren’t going to wilt the first time “Stressbot”, R3-A2, hits the table.
___ Ability to crack Soontir – Like it or not, Soontir Fel isn’t going away this season. He should slow down and be less of a key component for some of the reasons listed above, but he’s not going away. Regardless of whether or not lists using him reach the cut (not saying they won’t, but thinking worst case), we WILL see him in the Swiss rounds, and he will serve as a spoiler there. If you can’t handle him, it’s going to severely hamper your score for the day.
I don’t have my list finalized for this weekend’s event yet, but it’s going to have to check off at least three of those items for me to consider it, and I’d prefer it if all of the conditions were satisfied. So I’m running….
Major initiative bid, and I think it’s nigh on unstoppable.
More seriously, I’ve had it pointed out to me in the past that calling my shot before a major event isn’t the best of ideas, so I’m going to keep the exact plan quiet until after the weekend.
And for those of you wondering, I’m hearing that Wave VIII (Ghost, Inquisitor’s TIE, Mist Hunter, and Punishing One) is due within the next two weeks, so we’ll have a whole new set of builds to prepare for coming up any day now. Wooohooo!!
Today we have a special guest battle report from Sam Talley. Sam is a local X-Wing player who has really stepped his game up in 2015, winning a Store Championship, going undefeated in swiss rounds on his way to an 8th place finish at the Atlanta Regional Championship, and generally being a holy terror in the local tournament scene. I’ve yet to see him playing in his Mandalorian armor, seen to the right, but the man’s got street cred among us gaming nerds.
I had the pleasure of throwing some “net list” tests at Sam during his preparations for Worlds, so he was kind enough to document his experiences to share here on the Tabletop General. Read on for his take on the biggest X-Wing tournament of the year!
Previously I had flown Corran Horn (E-Wing) / Chewie (Millennium Falcon), but I was too scared to bring Corran to the table. He was simply dying to quickly to concentrated Twin Laser Turret(TLT) fire for me, and after hearing all the hype from other National level tournaments about the TLT, I knew I’d want to try it out. The 4 TLT lists seemed too boring a play style for me, so I tried to pair it with something else. I landed on Dash. I liked his mobility and carrying a Heavy Laser Cannon(HLC) with 4 red dice gave me at least a chance to hit any target. The biggest weakness of this list was the donut holes on all three ships. I developed a strategy of jousting with autothruster (Starviper) equipped arc dodgers, using the main arcs of all three ships. I would keep the Y-Wings in front of Dash to block incoming high PS ships and keep them out of range the Outrider’s blind spot.
Against swarms or other turrets, my plan was to get my opponents to chase me through a dense obstacle field that I would build in the center of the map. I love this strategy and had used it to great effect with Chewie. I practiced as much as I could and watched all the youtube videos I could find of other major tournaments. However, I wasn’t in love with this list. I liked it, but I just didn’t truly love it. Still, I was prepared as I could be and I just hoped it would be enough.
I saw this line up across the table from me and felt very good about the matchup. Tarn would be a annoying, but my turrets should still push damage through, and Horton dies as easily as any other Y-Wing. Miranda would be tough end game if I had to duel her with only Dash because of the shield regeneration, so I just had to keep one of my Y’s alive with Dash. My goal was to kill Horton first, then see where the game took me. We engaged in the middle of the map and the first shots went my way. I got all my shots on Horton and got him down to one hull. Dash lost a few shields, but I was ok with the trade since I could PS kill Horton at the start of the following turn. My opponent played it smart and got Tarn and Horton within range 1 of Dash, and away from my Y-Wings which had moved to engage Miranda on the table edge. Dash barrel rolled to get a shot and avoid Tarn’s arc. I rolled one hit, 3 blanks. I would’ve Rec Spec’d for a double focus if not for the barrel roll action, but it wouldn’t have mattered. Ok, so I need for my opponent to roll a blank green die, easily done right? Wrong. He rolled the evade, Horton lived. The exact same rolls would continue for the next turn. Horton wasn’t even using his focus tokens for R5-P9, using them to push more damage into Dash. My dice totally abandoned me this game. My HLC shot refused to kill a one hull Y-Wing for two straight turns, all the while his TLT continued to land every shot. Tarn finally got into the mix and started landing every red die. What did Dash do? He blanked every evade die as well. In an exchange where Horton should have died easily so that Dash could then run around Tarn, everything went wrong for me. Horton continued to live and do damage and Tarn rolled hot on attack dice, while my evades went super cold. My Y-Wings had to actually circle back to finally kill Horton, but by then it was too late. Salm had lived two turns too many, putting too much damage on Dash, and Tarn easily finished him off before he could do Dash things and run away. I got one hull damage on Miranda but then he started to regen her shields and Tarn turned around onto my Y’s. The R7 made Tarn unhittable for this game and I went on to lose quickly in 25 minutes, with a final score of 34-100.
My opponent was rather sporting, understanding how lucky he had been to keep Horton alive for so long and offered to buy me a beer later in the day. This was the hardest loss of the day. I love playing X-Wing so much that even loosing a close match can be very enjoyable, but this game was over too quickly. The dice didn’t let the match get into the tense, dogfight endgame that makes competitive play so much fun. Ah, the joys of a dice game. However, in an eight round tournament, you’re always going to have that one game where the dice go cold, and hopefully another game where they can’t miss. So I did my best to re-focus and prepare myself for the next game.
This list is a bit of mess, so many upgrades on 3 ships. However, seeing random Scum lists would become a theme for me. My opponent acknowledged it wasn’t quite a top tier list, but he was there to fly and just have fun. My biggest fear was having Talonbane get too close and really tear my ships to pieces. However, his set up made it easy for me to avoid that. I put my ships in a corner as he set up in the middle, with Talonbane furthest from me. He got caught behind the HWK’s and I was happy to joust him, with my Y-Wings in the front, guarding Dash’s donut again. The HWK’s did their shenanigans, but with Recon Specialist, I’m okay with Palob taking a focus. I traded Dash for Palob and Talonbane and then the Y-Wings easily handled Torkhil. It was a fairly easy, short match. I was back on track.
This was a very entertaining game. I did my best to built a tight asteroid field and we set up in opposite corners. My opponent and I both played it carefully and deliberately, circling each other for half the board. When we finally engaged I managed to get my arcs of all three ships onto A. IG-88 A popped glitterstim, but I still stripped 3 shields. Dash lost 3 shields as well due to A’s crackshot, but overall I was happy with the positioning and the exchange. The next turn was the game changer. He intentionnaly ran his aggressors into one another and stalled them in place. Dash, not expecting this, bumped one and had the other inside his donut. It was a great move by my opponent. I didn’t see it coming and my 4 straight move wasn’t enough to clear. While Dash didn’t take too much more damage, losing his offense for that turn hurt. The Y-Wings stayed close in and put 2 more damage on A with their main guns, but A took off running the next turn. Realizing chasing an Aggressor with Y’s was a terrible idea, especially with Dash not in a good pursuit vector either, I switched to B. A continued to hide into the mid-game, as B duked it out solo. I managed to drop B’s shields with the HLC, only for him to regain it with A’s ability as he killed the first Y-Wing. It was a great move to have A in this game, it really saved my opponents MOV. Time was running out, and with Dash’s shields gone, my only hope was to kill A and hope for a tie. B still had his glitter/crack combo in store and used it to finish off Dash, but only just after Dash managed to kill A. B then quickly finished my lone Y-Wing and took the game. It was a very close affair and my opponent knew how to handle his ships. I just couldn’t keep the pressure up on A, but I was happy with how I flew overall. [Editor’s note: Practice games against 2x IG-2000 did some good!]
Now at this point I was still mathematically alive, I just needed to go on a run. I’ve been on hot streaks before and having lost games in this tournament early put me in an easier position moving forward to win. I was still cautiously optimistic setting up for game 4, the last match before our meal break.
This was the closest I came to a mirror match all day. He had the action economy on his Dash, while mine had the pilot skill advantage. We built a tight debris field and lined up to joust each other. Of course I had no intention of actually jousting and turned my formation at the very start with the hope of dragging the Talas through the debris fields. It worked and my opponent gave chase while his Dash flew around their flank. The Talas broke their formation and were picked off one by one by my turrets. His Dash chased my Y’s, but did not concentrate fire on a single target. I destroyed his Dash, having 1 shield left on my own, a shieldless Ywing, and 1 hull Ywing. It was a huge error for MOV purposes, letting me save all of my points on the table. Although, judging by the 16oz beer he chugged mid game, I honestly think he was kinda drunk. But… Hey! A win’s a win. Now it was time for that meal break and to regroup for my epic 4 game win streak!
This was one the few enjoyable, high level games I played that day. My opponent was an Aussie, the twin brother of the Super Dash player who would end up making the top 8. The targeting computer on Soontir was an uncommon sight and gave me the slight hope of being able to actually hit Soontir for once. However, my strategy for this type of list is to joust with the main arcs, hope to bump with the Y-Wings to protect Dash’s donut, and target Vader first. My opening was strong, changing the plan on the fly, I actually pushed Dash forward and managed to get the block on Vader, stalling him onto a debris field. The Y-Wings stripped his shields and did 1 hull damage, leaving Vader with 2 hull remaining. I knew had to destroy Vader in the next turn because then he’d simply turn and run and I’d never get a second chance. Also, Soontir’s targeting computer was really paying off in this match up, as he jumped in close and started to waylay my Y-Wings with accurate 4 dice attacks. So Vader 3 banks, keeps his stress and was hoping to get enough distance from my ships and hide behind another debris field. Here’s my chance, a hurt, actionless Vader in range of my turrets. The debris field pays off for the extra defense dice, along with Palpatine, and Vader doesn’t get touched that turn. Soontir continues to wreck my Y-Wings unchecked and now the shuttle has closed in and has joined the melee. I had a window of opportunity and I missed it. I won’t call that bad luck or dice though, my list building was more at fault here. As the top tables’ use of R3-A2 or Tactician will show, stress is the real way to counter an arc dodger. Stress kills Soontir, not a bunch of turrets. Dash did manage to kill half of the shuttle before he succumbed to the slaughter, and those 14 points would later proved to be rather important in the overall standings.
My slim hopes of going 6-2 were smashed, but my pride was not. I still had that to fly for.
Recounting this game is actually painful for me. The list is such an oddball assortment of scum. I flew perfectly, keeping all of his ships at range. I avoided the blaster turret and Palob’s ability and allowed only Guri to fire for four straight turns. My reward: my opponent’s evade dice went hot and he evaded ALL of my shots. I ignored Guri and attacked Palob, but his combo of endless focus, stealth device and serissu worked to perfection for him. To give you an idea of how the match went, his HWK hit my Y-Wing at range 3 twice with his single dice main weapon attack. We actually kept track and I totalled 3 whole evade results rolled on my green dice. It was incredibly frustrating to fly perfectly to your plan and still lose. I eventually managed to take down Serissu, but Guri had finally moved in to close range on my Y’s and started tearing them apart. It was such a unique, some might say random, list. It’s not something you expect to see at this level of event. Honestly, who puts stealth device on an HWK?
I still had hope to end the day at a respectable 4-4. Some players might roll over with my record, but I didn’t travel a thousand miles to roll over. Bring on the next match!
Yet another Scum list, my fifth of the day. Y-Wings don’t really care about Crackshot and those Kihraxz don’t stand up well to concentrated fire. I did my standard opening of pretending to joust and running my opponent through the obstacles. The Kihraxz did not begin in a tight formation, and became even more drawn out as they attempted to chase my turrets down. I picked them off easily enough, only losing Dash’s shields.
At first glance this list made me a bit nervous. Those proton rockets could do some real damage if they got too close to Dash, but the Fringer is rather toothless without a cannon. My opponent explained his list as being designed to specifically hunt other arc dodging aces. Since we were meeting at 3-4 records, his list building strategy was going as equally poor as mine. As the game progressed, the Fringer did his best to crash in and block my formation. It was mostly ineffective, but the A-Wings did manage to launch both Proton Rockets into Dash. However, using both actions for Target Locks and Focus on offense left the A-Wings defenseless against the Y-Wings. Jake went down early, followed by the Fringer. Dash managed to limp away on one hull while the Ywings covered his escape. One Y-Wing managed a block on Tycho and the nimble A-Wing crumpled under the other Ywings TLT fire. I had won.
Result: Win 100-26, Record 4-4.
Final ranking after swiss: 110th out of 298; 822 MOV
I had fought back from 2-4 to an even record and could return home with my head held high. With slightly better luck I could have gone 5-3, but I still no right to consider being anywhere near the top tables. I did my damnedest to practice and prepare for this tournament, but the lack of a real warmup tournament really hurt me. I just didn’t get to see enough of wave 7 played on a high level. The biggest lesson I learned was about stress. R3-A2 or Tactician was the way to combat aces like Corran Horn, Poe Dameron, Darth Vader, or Soontir Fel. The Twin Laser Turret gets so much stronger when their targets don’t have any defensive actions to keep them alive, even if they do have Autothrusters or Emperor Palpatine. Of course, I didn’t learn this lesson from my own games as I somehow mainly faced haphazard scum lists. But watching the top 16 was not only entertaining, but educational. While the lists were quite diverse, but the one new strategy from wave 7 was mixing the TLT with a stress giving mechanic. In my opinion, that’s how Paul Heaver took his third straight World Championship. Going forward, along with the rest of the old Meta mainstays, a wise player would be smart to prepare for these strategies and tactics. I myself, plan on trying out TIE Fighter swarms loaded up with Crackshot.
At least until wave 8 drops and everything changes again.
A big thanks to Sam for sharing his experiences! As is our yearly ritual now, Sam and the other locals who made the trip up to the frozen tundra are leading the charge for more competitive play in our area, and more often. With only a month and a half until Store Championships begin for 2016, we’re already starting to ramp up, with competitive mini-tournaments for the veterans, and a rookie league for the less experienced pilots. Wave 8, as Sam alluded to, is on the horizon, and I can’t wait to see what it does to the meta going in to the new year. The only thing I’m sure of for next year is that there will be one more General on the ground at Worlds!
I arrived at our local X-Wing game night this week at the same time as a good friend of mine who I rarely get a chance to play against. We walked in to find several other games in progress, and it seemed everyone else was already engaged, so he started pulling out a list and I began flipping through my squads, trying to find something out of the ordinary to fly – my triple Interceptor list deserved a week off. I had almost decided to run a TIE swarm when it came up in conversation that my friend had never played against a relatively common tournament list – “BBBBZ”. There’s probably some more elegant or descriptive names out there, but it’s not often that you can tell someone EXACTLY what a full 100 point list contains with only five letters, so I embrace it.
That’s it, 100 points exactly. Pilot skill 2 across the board. Zero upgrades. Only 6 evade dice total spread across 5 ships. But the list brings a whopping total of 36 hull and shield points, and throws out a respectable 14 attack dice. I’m not a HUGE fan of the list, but it has made a respectable showing in many store championship events this year, and it sounded like something that was suitably different from my usual selections to use.
For this particular game, my opponent fielded the following:
We were approaching this as a relatively casual game, but then he threw down his “Lost City Squadron” rank card – a challenge. One of our local TO’s borrowed the “Bag Tag” system from Disc Golf, and had fifty numbered rank cards printed out, which were randomly distributed around our community. In a challenge match, both players offer up their card as a wager on the match, and the winner takes the higher of the ranks. We’re still working on the system, but the idea is to offer some minor perks for being ranked highly, such as free local event entry to the highest ranked player present. With my current #4 ranking on the line, now I had to take this seriously, despite not being practiced with flying the list.
With obstacles (both debris and asteroids) fairly tightly packed in the center, we deployed in opposite corners of the map with distinctly separate goals – I intended to use the obstacles as additional blockers and to force a joust; while my opponent appeared intend upon flying past and around them, approaching me from the side. Without splitting his force, however, there was nothing to prevent me from turning my force to face his as he approached, and we engaged in the middle of the field.
The first turn of shooting didn’t go well for me at all. With several ships too far away to fire (I really need to practice maneuvering these things), no target locks, and firing at long range, I took a lot of damage on one B-Wing and did none in return – It’s really hard to crack those Interceptors open!
Things got nasty from there. Seeing what a bad position he would be otherwise on the upcoming turn, my opponent elected to fly one Interceptor straight up the middle and out the other side of the engagement, crossing a debris field in the process and taking a Direct Hit. The other would be attempting to skirt the side of my force and dodge out of my arcs, but there just weren’t enough places for it to go safely, and my injured B-Wing blocked him perfectly, while the rest of the squad had moved up and stacked up Target Locks. Rexler Brath vaporized the wounded Blue Squadron Pilot, but the action-less Interceptor fell to the massed firepower of the remainder of my squad.
The chase was on from there, with the Defender and damaged Interceptor doing everything they could to dodge arcs and get clean shots. As several other players noted, I should have started a timer as soon as it was declared to be a ranked match if I really wanted to keep my card. It ended up taking the better part of two hours to finish the cat & mouse game between the two squads, as I switched targets several times to attempt to catch one in a bad position. In the end, clever maneuvering with my B-Wings combined with my knowledge of the moves available to the Imperial ships to allow me to trap and kill both remaining enemy ships, losing the Z-95 and another B-Wing in the process, and with two healthy B-Wings remaining. Depending on when time expired, the match could have ended several different ways, but there was only a couple of minutes where I was behind, losing the Z-95 before finishing the second Interceptor.
There’s certainly power to be found in the B-Wings, but the Z-95 seems like it doesn’t always do a whole lot for me in this list. I’ve faced a couple variants that drop the Headhunter for upgrades on the B-wings, and I would probably select one of these if I were to bring out such a list in tournament play.
Have I ever mentioned how much I love Intelligence Agent? Perhaps with my Cloaks & Dagger list? Those Advanced Sensor B-Wings can pump out unexpected damage by taking a Focus or Target Lock before a hard turn or K-Turn, or thanks to the Intelligence Agent they can be really good at getting right in your way to block maneuvers and deny actions. Then Fire-Control Systems lets the other two focus on pure damage output.
Potentially applying four stress per turn, these B-Wings do a really good job of locking down one or two targets, taking them out of the game, and then coming back around for the remainder. They can be beaten, but it’s rough. I’ll be potentially playing as a ringer against players with a bye for the round in an upcoming “El Sith-o De Mayo” tournament, and I may have to give this variant a spin.
So what do you guys think? Which squad would perform the best, out of the three? Is there another variant with multiple B-Wings on the table that you like more and I didn’t list? Leave a comment below, I welcome your feedback as always!
By now, readers of the site should know that when it comes to Star Wars games, I’m a huge fan of TIE Interceptors. I’m really looking forward to find the best way to use them in Star Wars: Armada (releasing this week!!!), even though they won’t appear until the Imperial Fighter Squadron expansion arrives with the rest of wave 1 in a couple weeks. I’ve posted a few recent articles (here, and here) about how I’ve been using the Interceptors in X-Wing Miniatures, and this weekend I put all that practice to the test, by taking that same list to the X-Wing Store Championship at Galactic Comics & Games.
While it wasn’t exactly a five minute trip to get there, I have a friend who plays at Galactic regularly, and he had made a special trip to come attend another Store Championship event which I had run. I wanted to return the favor. It would be close to my last chance to compete at a Store Championship event before the season wrapped up for the year, and I’ve been using these events as a way of proving to myself how much my skills and understanding of the game had evolved over the previous year. So, several hours of driving way earlier than I’m comfortable with on a Saturday morning, I arrived, registered for the event, and mentally buckled my seatbelt, something told me I was in for a ride. I didn’t expect a cakewalk by any means, but I didn’t see a lot of squads out on tables that I wanted to fight:
Four B-Wings… not the worst thing in the world, but there’s a lot of HP in there, and they’re the only thing to have beaten my list thus far (technically 3 + Luke).
Obligatory Paul Heaver Special (YT-1300, 3 Z-95‘s), I just get so bored with fighting that at every single event.
Out of time for scouting, it was time to get on the table. Round one started with exactly 16 players, which meant 4 rounds of Swiss play and then a cut to top 4. This got a little complicated as 5 players making a similar drive to mine arrived half an hour after the round started. This was the first major event hosted by this Tournament Organizer, so he consulted myself and a couple other TO’s present. Given that other players from the same area arrived on time, none of the players were pre-registered despite the clearly outlined requirements to do so on the event announcements, and that they did not contact the store when they realized they would be late, but that they had several friends in the event and had driven so far, they were allowed to join, but with full losses in the first round, and the event was not expanded, making for a steep uphill battle for them to reach the top 4 in what was now a 21 person event.
Soontir, Carnor, and a Royal Guard Pilot, all decked out with Royal Guard TIE, Push The Limit, Autothrusters, and Stealth Device. One point initiative bid, which has been worth it’s weight in gold (and more, considering that a “point” is noncorporeal and weightless.)
Oh. That’s what I missed about the B-Wings in scouting. Tacticians. A big meaty stress mechanic inserted into a matchup that I didn’t like too much already. Considering that my Interceptors live and die by their actions, that much stress (and thus action denial) applied to one Interceptor at a time means that Interceptor dies, and quickly. And thanks to Tactician, every shot my opponent fired at range 2 would add an additional Stress Token to his target. So I had to play this carefully, and I did exactly that.
It certainly helped accelerate things that my opponent miscalculated an early maneuver and collided with two crucial K-Turns, but I don’t know that it would have helped matters all that much for him, as I was pushing my Interceptors HARD, giving up shots to escape firing arcs, Barrel Rolling back out to range 3, Boosting into range 1, K-turning at just the right time, and skirting asteroids by micrometers… I was in the zone early. One Interceptor got caught in his sights, and losing two hull, but it served as a decoy for the rest of the game, and I walked away with a full win, having taken exactly one extra stress from the four Tacticians combined.
This was an interesting list, and my opponent flew it well. I’d had trouble in practice keeping the BTL-A4 Y-Wings pointed into the fight, but he did a great job of alternating K-turns and green 3’s with them, and kept pouring shot after shot at anything he could keep in arc. He snuck a damage or two home on the initial engagement, and a couple of ion shots landed home. As a result, my Interceptors ended up in really bad positions, but he wasn’t able to capitalize on it due to some untimely critical hits from his own Proton Bombs. Realizing the danger he posed, I poured fire at Kavil, and managed to put a “Blinded Pilot” critical hit on him. I then played keep-away for a turn or two with him, feeling safe because I didn’t have to worry if I guessed wrong once as to where he would move. Eventually, I was able to regroup and pounce on Kavil with all three ships, leaving him unable to boost away.
From there I was forced to play very carefully against his remaining Y-Wings to avoid arcs, but the rest of his list slowly crumbled as I picked away at it. He was inches away from scoring some major points, but the score doesn’t reflect it, as all my Interceptors limped home with heavy damage but alive, 100-0. Intrigued with the fight he put up here, and curious to see what I could do with the same setup, I tried that same list out in a local event the next day. I’ll just say that certain people have a knack for certain ships, and Y-Wings are not my forte.
Ugh. This was going to be UGLY, and a bad matchup for me. At 99 points, to his 100, I have the choice on initiative. With tied pilot skills across the board, I faced a hard choice: Let the Phantoms run rampant in the maneuver phase by taking initiative, or give it to my opponent, thus letting them have their cloaking and extra defense dice but take the opportunity to dodge firing arcs by moving last. I chose to give up initiative, and I still don’t know if it was the right choice, or if there even was a right choice to be made. My opponent outguessed me on maneuvers very consistently, and my dice (which had admittedly been rolling hot so far) went cold. I managed to take the shields off of both Phantoms, but couldn’t punch through. I made some big mistakes with my maneuver choices, including attempting a K-turn while stressed (Pro tip: If you stack tokens on top of each other for any reason, put the stress on top.) So after a hail-mary of an attempt to snag a couple points by killing Echo (and falling one hit short), I walked away with a quick 0-100 loss, and hoped I wouldn’t face this again in the first round of the playoffs.
2-1, 400 MoV
I’m a little shaken by the total loss in that match, but I feel like a solid win still gets me into the top 4 cut, especially considering a standings update has me in 5th or 6th place, meaning I’m ahead of several other players with a 2-1 standing, and two players ahead of me will be knocked down in the ranks by their matches.
Okay, so it’s not a cookie-cutter copy of Paul Heaver’s “Fat Han” list, but it’s pretty close. Taking Luke in place of R2-D2 takes away a lot of the ship’s resiliency, but you aren’t really missing out on much by downgrading the Bandits except perhaps against Rebel swarms, which I didn’t spot many of at this event. It’s similar enough to the original that I don’t want to see it yet again.
Tensions were high here, as there had been a misunderstanding about the tournament structure after the 5 late-comers were added in. My opponent was the front-runner of the group who had came in late, and would likely make it into the playoffs with a full win and poor showings by the losing players at tables 1 & 2, and his companion at the next table down was in a similar situation and had a shot as well, but it was a must-win situation for them, despite the fact that both had beaten everyone they had played. This had just been clarified to the whole room, so my opponent was frustrated but determined. I, on the other hand, had no intention of letting one big turret end my day.
Han was still surprisingly tough to bring down, even without R2-D2, but I focused all of my fire there, ignoring the Z’s. The last thing I wanted to do was end up in a late game duel with 1 Interceptor trying to bypass both C-3PO and an evade token. I took damage early on all of my ships, which made them more vulnerable without their Stealth Devices, but I was able to score a few key critical hits on Han, including a “Damaged Engine” (all hard turns are red) and an “Injured Pilot” (Ignore Han’s pilot ability and Elite Pilot Talent), which hampered the Falcon’s mobility and considerably reduced its’ damage output.
The stakes were high, as we both knew this was essentially the first round of our playoffs, the loser’s day was done. Adding to that tension from earlier was that my opponent was forced to do things that he didn’t come prepared for – he didn’t bring Target Lock tokens because he never takes that action with this list, and I had none to loan in my tournament kit since I can’t take the action, but Carnor Jax shuts down Focus & Evade actions, and the Injured Pilot critical hit caused him to need Target Locks for damage output. And in the name of keeping the play surface free of clutter, my opponent insisted on keeping any tokens for a ship with its’ ship card, which caused a great deal of confusion from time to time. In fact, that proved to be his demise, as Han took a hard turn to face a nearby board edge (normally a white maneuver, but now red thanks to the Damaged Engine crit), which left him stressed and unable to take a subsequent hard turn to remain on the field. My damaged Interceptors then engaged the Headhunters, but with all of the token confusion and dancing around the Falcon, too much time had elapsed in the match, and I was unable to kill more than one of them before time was called.
I really didn’t want to see the TIE Phantoms again, but this looked pretty nasty too. Ten Numb’s loadout here is a bit of a gimmick against most lists, but deadly against mine: Ten Numb’s pilot ability is that one of his Critical Hit results cannot be canceled. Calculation lets you spend a Focus Token to turn one of your Focus results to a Critical Hit. After I did the math, it looks like when he shoots his Ion Cannon with a Focus Token available, he has a slightly better than 75% chance to cause an unstoppable point of damage and an Ion token. Next to meaningless against a Decimator, or a swarm of TIE Fighters, but against my list that is already hurt badly by Ion tokens and only has 9 hull points in the list, Ten Numb had to GO!
With that in mind, I went back to my number one rule for a tough matchup: Pick out the one thing that can hurt you more than anything else, go punch it in the face until dead, and re-evaluate the game from there. He approached slowly, using an opening that had his ships nested up in the corner of the field, weaving between each other with each move. I’m still not sure what effect it was supposed to have, but it was “a modified version of Paul Heaver’s opening moves”, so of course, it has to be good, right? I swarmed in with my Interceptors, “approaching faster than [he] had hoped [I] would”, and went full speed after Ten Numb. In the process I lost a couple hull points and my Stealth Devices on Carnor Jax and Soontir Fel, but Ten Numb was cleared within three turns of shooting, and the clustered formation of our ships left my opponent unable to capitalize on the situation enough to finish off either of those ships.
At this point, Keyan and two Z’s remain. Soontir is pointed out of the fight and stressed, Carnor is in the middle of the field with enemy ships on either side of him, and the Royal Guard Pilot is on the opposite side of the fight from Soontir, and pointed away.
Everybody that has used or played someone using them heavily knows that TIE Interceptors with Push the Limit have just a few moves that you’ll see over and over again: Hard turns, speed 2 when stressed, speed 1 or 3 potentially when unstressed for some magical reason. Having little reason to suspect anything else would be coming, my opponent set his dials for the turn to focus all his fire on my wounded and stressed elite pilots that would surely be turning in with a green 2-hard to go head to head with his remaining B-Wing. But I had dialed up a plan that I’ve always known was a possibility, but never really put into practice: The scatter drill.
The Royal Guard Pilot and Carnor had high speed green maneuvers set in opposite directions away from Keyan Farlander, with Carnor looking to escape the inevitable trap. Keyan might have sensed that something was wrong when the Royal Guard didn’t try to engage, but he was committed to finishing Carnor, and gave himself Stress for a quality shot. Carnor gunned it away from the B-Wing, but ended up with two Z-95’s in his way. Barrel Rolling to one side got him out of one arc, and I intended to shoot the gap between the Z-95 and an asteroid with a followup boost, but I had misjudged the final position on the Barrel Roll and he didn’t fit, so he took a Focus instead, ready to shoot his way out. Soontir Fel came screaming around that same asteroid with a Boost and Barrel Roll of his own, getting a Focus token for his trouble, and the two Interceptors vaporized the Headhunter, finding themselves outside the other’s arc and outside Farlander’s range.
Not fully comprehending the danger, my opponent had his remaining ships follow Fel and Jax, keeping Keyan stressed and unable to turn to face the Royal Guard Pilot, who had now turned around and was rapidly approaching from behind, plinking away at shields with shot after shot. By the time the danger set in, it was too late to do anything about it, as I refused to engage the B-Wing with my other two ships until I was certain to score a kill safely, and the B-Wing couldn’t turn to face the Royal Guard Pilot without spending a turn to clear his stress first. Facing my full squad with one remaining Headhunter in single elimination play, my opponent surrendered to inevitability, and I was on to the finals for the first time.
This is where I started doing a mental happy dance. The Phantoms from earlier had run into a hard counter, two beefy turrets, and had been knocked out of the event. And now I sat at the top table waiting for those two turrets with a hard counter of my own, Autothrusters. There’s no such thing as a sure win, especially at the final table, but for the first time all day I was happy about what I was flying against, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. With that being said, these two would take lots of damage to take out, and against two large turreted ships, I had a feeling that there would be some turns where I simply got outguessed and ended up taking two unopposed shots, or ended up bumping into the enemy ships.
Again, seeing C-3PO on the Falcon, I knew I wanted to take it down first while he could only mitigate a small portion of my firepower. At one point, however, I saw an opportunity to let Chewie fly out of the fight for a few moments, and I did exactly that, switching targets to Leebo, and the damage stacked up on the Outrider FAR faster than I would have expected it to. I was soon surprised to have three damaged ships remaining to face down a shield-less but otherwise healthy Falcon. And then it was two ships. And then it was one…
I had put several points of damage onto Chewbacca, but he had cleared Soontir and the Royal Guard pilot, the second time all day that I had actually sustained losses. Carnor Jax remained, wounded but alive with one hull point remaining, and Chewbacca had four hull points. With C-3PO onboard, I knew I couldn’t finish the Falcon in one shot, so I had to find a way to survive more than one return shot (thanks to Gunner). Missing my Stealth Device sorely at this point, Jax rocketed away from Chewie, Boosting and Barrel Rolling out of firing range and resetting to turn & engage the next turn.
The Falcon gave chase, taking a huge 4 forward with the large base… and landed directly on an asteroid, taking a damage in the process. Jax suddenly had an opening, turned back in towards Chewbacca, Boosted in to range 1, used Push the Limit for a Focus, and pulled the trigger, bringing down the Falcon. Victory was mine.